Deception Is Key
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
As a more offensively focused coach, I get asked all the time “Coach, how do I become a better shooter?” This is honestly a loaded question because it’s dependent upon each individual player; the advice that I give most frequently: DECEPTION IS KEY.
You don’t have to have the fastest and most powerful shot to be a good shooter. Not even in the slightest. As a player I spent A LOT of hours working on my sidearm shot and lifting. I thought “if only I was stronger!”
I thought that if I worked on increasing the speed (and the movement) of the ball from my stick to the net, that I would score more goals.
While I wasn’t entirely wrong, I didn’t see THAT much progress, certainly not enough to justify the amount of time I spent on this one single thing. I quickly became frustrated and thought that I just wouldn’t be able to shoot any faster.
Then, one day at practice, it hit me…
What was my ACTUAL goal here? Was it to score more frequently or have a faster shot?
I wanted to score more frequently. SO, I started looking at it in a different way. I started watching other players who consistently scored multiple goals in games, and started picking apart what it was that gave them the ability to always have marks in the goal column on the stat sheet. One day at practice one of my teammates, who was a fellow attacker, drove to cage, dodged, threw the most RIDICULOUSLY awesome fake, and then just lightly dumped the ball behind the goalie.
Cue the lightbulb.
It wasn’t the sidearm power shot we all know and love. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my sidearm top corner riser.) IT WAS HER DECEPTION. She didn’t have to shoot hard AT ALL. It was such an “aha!” moment, I literally laughed out loud.
Fast forward to my coaching days: when I teach shooting, I really teach faking. It’s fundamentally more important to be deceptive than it is to be able to shoot hard. Obviously being able to shoot (and score) in any situation is important, and there are times when that sidearm, crow hop, top corner riser is the shot, however, being able to REALLY sell a fake and move the goalie is a much more valuable skill.
Okay, so I know you’re thinking “how do I do this?”
Use everything at your disposal to fake: A lot of players fake with their stick, which is obviously the root of the fake and most important part, but it isn’t the only part. Good goalies are taught to watch your body language and read and predict future movements based on what you are doing with other parts of your body. You want to use your arms, your eyes, the direction you’re moving, AND your stick.
Make it believable: When I say “use your eyes” I mean, look at where you want the goalie to move to and get your big eyes looking like that spot is ALL you want. You can use your peripheral vision to lock into the spot you actually want to place the ball.
Change your direction: Another great way to move the goalie is move in the direction you want them to move, and then quickly change your direction AND increase your speed. This will get her to not only move in the opposite direction but by increasing your speed you won’t give her time to recover.
Want to be a good shooter? Be a great faker! Deception is KEY!